Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unfinished Business

Wow! I thought I took the cake when I revealed I had such an old WIP! But, judging from the comments, it would seem that there are those with some just as old, or older...

Which makes me feel better about mine.

So, here she is.

(She is displaying her displeasure with me by refusing to photograph properly.)

The Gingko Leaf Tunic, from Fiddlesticks Knitting here in Toronto. Don't get me wrong - I love Fiddlesticks Knitting - Dorothy Siemens is fabulous designer, and she makes me actually believe I will use the shawls she designs. And, you've probably seen or read about some of her shawl designs on other blogs - Peacock Feathers, Tina Shawl and Lotus Blossom to name a few.

I've been thinking back, and I'm reasonably sure I started her in 2004. I really don't know what it is about it - I mean, it's a relatively simple pattern repeat. It's worked with Ecoknit organic cotton, which feels more like wool than cotton to me. I was doing fine up until I reached the underarm. Up until that point, the piece was worked in the round. Which was a good thing, as you were yo'ing on all rows, which is pretty simple on the RS - even for me. But, once you split up the piece at the underarm and worked the front separately from the back - you started working RS and WS rows. The WS rows have you "lacing" (as I call it) as well - yo's, P2TOG and P2TBL. And that seriously messes with Brigitte's head, Knitsters...and frustrates the hell out of her. It was taking me close to 10 minutes and sometimes more to work the WS. Mental block, I suppose. Although I'm better now, I shoved the poor tunic in a bag and forgot about her for over a year. Once in awhile, I'd take her out, work on it a bit, then get frustrated. But, over the past weekend, I pulled her out again, and managed to finish the back (ok, almost finish).

So now it's just 2 sleeves! I figure at this point, I'm doing pretty good. I feel much more comfortable with the WS lacing stuff, and of course, the rows aren't anywhere near as long.


Believe me when I tell you that you will not find a more thoroughly written pattern than a Fiddlesticks pattern. You really can't go wrong. I'm just clumsy when it comes to this particular one.

I'm going to do my best to work on her as much as I can, and finish her up. Ugh! *pumped with motivation*


You know, I've been a bad blogger this week - I actually wrote this post on Wednesday, and did not get around to posting it with pics until today. I've been too distracted selling stuff on eBay - yarn I KNOW I will not use ::cough::cotton::cough::, and some other stuff as well. The next batch is some Noro Kureyon (9 balls) and Silk Garden (10), and some Zara (10 and another mixed bag).

If anyone is interested before I post them to eBay (probably by early next week), drop me an e-mail (, and I'll give you the details.

My handsome lad (not for sale)!

I've been trying to get a shot of Gandalf lounging in the "Kitty Kave" - the little section at the bottom of their kitty condo, but everytime I find him with his little wee head sticking out of it, and run to get the camera, he gets all goofy and starts running after me.

"Am I getting a pot belly?"

What a life, huh? Chittering away at birds and squirrels, talkin' trash with Guido the Outdoor Cat on who's tougher, eating, sleeping and playing.

Lorraine said it before - I want to be a pampered house kitty in my next life.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Steeks Are Your Friend.

Really! Absolutely nothing to be afraid of...


Here's the thing. Do you see where I cut? That's the "seam" at the beginning of the sleeve. Also notice that it hasn't unravelled. The Shetland yarn "sticks" to itself, and prevents it from running amok. Not a stitch has come undone.

When you knit traditional Fair Isle using good quality Shetland yarn, steeks are inserted at the start of an armhole, at the neckline (when knitting a pullover), or started at the very bottom if knitting a cardigan, and then incorporated until the end of the piece. I usually give myself 8 stitches, with an edge stitch either side for a total of 10 steek stitches. Everyone has their own method that works well for them - I like to alternate my colours across the steek. If you go have a peek at Marina's site, you'll see her Rona, complete with a really nice front steek (it's a cardigan).

Then, when it comes time to cut - you just center your scissors in the centre of the steek (between stitch 5 and 6), and snip away. And trust me - nothing unravels! And, you know what else it great? Minimal finishing! Despite what it may look like, Fair Isle knitting does not require alot of weaving in of ends. As long as you are diligent and neat about changing your colours along the way, you'll be fine! And - when you knit a Fair Isle cardigan? Even better! You can switch your colours as needed in the centre of the steek. After you've cut open your armhole steeks, you pick up your stitches as indicated around the opening, and you're on your way to knitting up your sleeve. And there is NO seaming, which makes this little knitter very happy. :D

What could be better!?

Just remember - good quality Shetland yarn! That's what makes the difference. If you are going to put that much patience and attention to detail that knitting a Fair Isle deserves, you really should use the best quality. Just sayin'...

But hey - this is my opinion and method. If you check out Anne's online shop - She Ewe Knits - she has an excellent tutorial on Fair Isle knitting.

And Wendy has a lot of Fair Isle examples as well, and she has a great tutorial on Norwegian steeks. I've only ever worked Norwegian steeks twice - they are done differently than Shetland yarn ones. Again - no need to be afraid! As long as you trust that thousands of knitters can't have been wrong when doing this steek thingy.

And here's my progress on Amphora -

"I just came over to say hi to Mom, and I end up getting used as a prop..."

Sleeve #1? Check. Collar? Check! Start of Sleeve #2? Woo! Check!!

Birthday boy Gandalf would like to thank all his wonderful friends for all the wishes he received. He may be classified as a "cat" now as opposed to a "kitten", but try telling him that. He's still as goofy as ever. And sleepy. So Mae graciously agreed to pose for today's kitty cheesecake photo.

"No I didn't."

I think I'm going to 'fess up next post, and introduce you to my oldest WIP, a poor sweater that has been patiently waiting to be completed for over 2 years now. Or maybe it's 3? Anyway - you will meet her and I'll hopefully get the virtual kick in the pants I need to finish her up.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Gandalf!!!

OK. A few days late, but nevertheless!

"I have big ears. And big eyes. And big feets. Some call me a goof."

Awww. My widdle Gandalf turned one year old on Friday, May 18th! Hard to believe - it seems like just yesterday that I brought him home. Look at him all fuzzy and small!

Gandalf (in the back) and a litter-mate doing their best impression of a 70's album cover.

Gandalf...he is unique. All my cats are special in their own way, and Gandalf is special in a silly, goofy way. I've never had a cat as curious, affectionate, purr-y and just plain silly as he is! He is the only one of my guys who will let me pick him up and hug and kiss him whenever I want, and he LOVES to sit on my lap while I'm on the computer. Although not as independant as his sister Mae, he also does not shadow me as much as Atticus does. He can be on his own in a quiet corner.

He is incredibly curious, and DOES NOT LEARN HIS LESSON THE FIRST TIME! With one exception - he no longer wants to help me with the box-cleaning. After that uh, episode where he sailed down the stairs in the litter box lid. How many times has he fallen off the bannister, tried to get outside, annoyed Mae once too many times or eaten fluff off the floor?! He's a funny one.

But, most of all, he is loving and affectionate to everyone he meets - including other animals. He will snuggle with Atticus and/or Mae, right after chasing them ragged around the apartment. I cannot go to bed without rubbing his belly.

"Hi. Just taking a breather. Silliness will resume shortly."

An oldie but a goodie picture!

Next time around - knitting pictures! Because Amphora has a collar, and the start of her second sleeve. And Carrie, although I've already cut the steeks, I'll show you why you shouldn't be afraid of them!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Me! MeMe! And the Little Dudes

I've been tagged by Nicole - cool!

So here is the red-tape:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

And here's some stuff about me.

1. I LOVE buttertarts. I will always love buttertarts. No, they are not gluten-free. No, I don't care.
2. I'm a Dove girl, and have been for about 15 years now. I've recently switched to this one. Everytime I thought "let's try this new brand...oooo...", my skin reacts.
3. I have a brother in the Canadian Navy, whose ship was amongst the first to set sail to the waters of the Middle East after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. (Hi Dan!! *waving*)
4. I will not watch "The Bridges of Madison County" with ANYONE. I bawl my eyes out from beginning to end. *sniff*
5. I dream in colour.
6. While on a trip to Morocco in 2002, my tour group was fortunate to have been introduced to the King of Morroco, Mohammed IV. He happened to be in Rabat, visiting a tombsite while we were there. He very graciously came over to us, and talked to us for a good while. A very kind man.
7. My SIL says I'm so funny because you could give me an wrapped, empty box for Christmas or my birthday, and I'd still be as excited as a little kid (uh, but please don't Susie...). I love the holidays. I was never big on them, but now that I spend them with my sister and SIL, I just have a blast and they've taken on a whole new meaning for me.
8. My oldest friend Joanne and I have been friends for over 30 years now. We met in Grade 3. We quickly decided that when we grew up we'd live on a farm and raise all kinds of animals. Still waiting on that...

Wow! So, did you learn anything new?!

OK. I have a confession to make. Everyone I wanted to tag has already been tagged! So, to make up for this, I give you another list.

Eight Random Facts/Habits of Atticus, Mae and Gandalf!!!

1. Atticus is TERRIFIED of thunderstorms.

"Oh geez...oh man...ok...ok...enough...thunder...breathe Atticus...breathe...breathe..."

"Dude, you OK?"

2. When Mae was a baby, she got her head stuck between 2 window panes. Oh, that was fun getting her out. She is so sweet-natured, that's about the worst thing she has ever done.
3. Gandalf was born with a malformed left hip joint. It doesn't seem to bother him, just makes him walk a little bow-legged.
4. When Atticus was a baby, he managed to break or destroy: one coffee machine, one toaster oven, a FULL pottery cannister of rice (nice...), one glass candle holder, 4 throw rugs, countless boxes of, uh, "chick stuff" and Kleenex, and a keyboard. Then I figured he probably needed company, and adopted Mae.
5. Atticus and Mae have the same mother, but come from different litters.
6. Gandalf snores with his mouth open when he sleeps on his back.


7. Mae is the hunter of the lot (typical of female cats). Although she is fearless in defending herself against Gandalf's play fighting, she is shy. Some of my friends and family have never seen her...
8. Gandalf has eaten, and enjoyed: curry paste, tandoori sauce, broccoli, a Colace tablet (don't ask...), beer, rice pasta, apple pieces, Cheerios, my sister's bread and butter pickles, and shampoo (again with the asking...) from The Body Shop. You cannot turn your back on him for a SECOND. Wonder why I call him a pooper?!

Now I'm sure you've learned something new about the kitties!

And guess what else? Amphora has a sleeve. Look -

I will be cutting open the neckline tonight (or soon...), and working on that. Then it's one more sleeve.

And how about these -

Wow, finished socks! Not the best picture, but, well, they're socks after all.

Stay tuned - a little black kitty turns 1 on Friday...!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Yes, I Do Knit Socks

I may not be the most prolific sock knitter. Or the most imaginative. But I do knit socks!

See - Ooooo...aaaaaaa... It's taken me, oh, about 5 weeks to work the above (made with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in the "Wildflowers" colourway). I would usually only work my socks on the train home (all of about 15 minutes knitting time) or during lunch time at work. But, as I've made a commitment to myself to finish up some WIP's - one at a time - I'm finding I need something relatively easy to do when either easily distracted, or have too many cats on me. So, the second sock has been knit rather quickly. I have accumulated quite a sock yarn stash, so the quicker I can make them up, the better! I work them toe-up, and use Wendy's pattern (thanks Wendy!). I also use my Mom's old size 14 metal knitting "pins" as they're called. They must be over 50 years old, and they are my absolute favourite to work with.

Gandalf and Atticus, during their daily stare-down with the neighbour's fluffy Maine Coon Guido.

"Mae! Get over here! Guido's come around again and he's STARING at us again! Do SOMETHING!"

" *sigh* Why can't you guys do anything for yourselves? Genius, he's OUTSIDE. We're INSIDE. Just...oh forget it. I'm coming over."

My smart little girl!

As for Amphora. Well, she's there. She almost has ONE sleeve (wow!). It'll be done today, most likely. *crossing fingers*

I also received a really nice comment from Amelia a couple of posts ago (Hi Amelia!) - thanks for delurking! Send me an e-mail at, and I can help you out with the Ziploc bags.

And - Happy Mother's Day! To all my Blogging Mom friends, and my own Mom, looking down on me from above and probably wondering why the hell it's taking me so long to finish Amphora's sleeve... :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Think I Have Too Much Yarn?

That's nothing! Check out the summer shoes. Um, *cough* some *cough* of the summer shoes... *cough* But really, is there such thing as TOO many shoes? Don't answer that.

It's that time of year where I pack away my fall / winter clothes and shoes, and put out my spring and summer ones. It always amazes me what I have. "Hey! I forgot about these!" - was said frequently... Oh, there's a cat somewhere in the picture...of course. It's a messy closet, why wouldn't they (Gandalf) want to explore and help make an even BIGGER mess?!


No, I haven't picked up my air conditioner yet. Yes, I'm still buying one. It's still cool in here, but with the way the weather changes here in Southern Ontario, it could be any time now.

What have I been knitting? Well, I was going all out on the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk cardigan, when it hit me! Oh right! Now I remember why I haven't used this stuff *slaps forehead*! Because it irritates my little girly hands like and SOS pad on a sunburn! I *think* it might be the dye. I've knit with alpaca/silk blends before with no issues. But this stuff? I don't know... Is it possible to have issues with the dye? I know there are some Rowan yarns that I have problems with because of the dye - maybe it's the same thing with the DB yarn.

So, I've been working on Amphora's sleeve.

"You are making this for me, right? Right??"

Although it may not be the best shot of the sleeve, little Mae looks so cute, I had to post this. I had all these wonderful plans on the weekend to complete most of it, but an icky "reaction" to lactose and "King Kong" on the Movie Network kind of took away from that... I think I managed, oh, 8 or so rounds on the sleeve while watching it. It's not a good idea to knit Fair Isle while watching this movie. It's a little distracting...

I also was patting myself on the back about how quickly it was going until I realized there was another chart to do! Another 28 rows! *clapping hands* And the facing!

I'm going to need the air conditioner.

Oh, and go pop by Jewel's blog, and send good wishes to her sweet little Mia, who's having kitty orthopedic surgery on May 10th. The little Dudes send you big hugs and kisses Mia!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Because my batteries are kaput, and I'm unable to take knitting type pictures, I instead give you this AWWWWWW moment:

No no no! I haven't gone and gotten another few kitties (but c'mon...ahhhnnnn!). Gandalf's foster Mom Raven from the Annex Cat Rescue gave me a CD just chock full o' cute baby pictures of the little goof. I'm saving a few more for his birthday later this month, but I thought I'd show this one. He's the little one squeezed in next to the orange kitty, second from the right.

The Annex Cat Rescue do great work here in Toronto, rescuing kitties, feeding and rescuing feral colonies, and of course, spaying and neutering as well. Raven took in this knocked-up street Momma, and was working at home the day she delivered the baby kitties. She helped take care of them, took them to the vet, and fed the runts (including my little Gandalf); and made sure they all found good homes, including Mom. And she has a full time job, and a family!! It's great volunteers like Raven that really make the Annex Cat Rescue work so well.

Oh, OK! Here's another cutie picture:

*blink blink blink*

More to come!

There is knitting! Amphora has almost one full sleeve! Wow! Imagine how nice it looks...ooooo...

And, I will admit to having started something new. Oh yes. A little cardigan being knit in some Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK in a lovely shade of green. Why? Oh, because I can. And because this is one yarn I've loved since I purchased it, and stares out at me from it's Ziploc XXL storage bag, pleading to be worked. OK!

I will post pictures next time around.

And thanks to everyone who left such nice comments on my new job! Thanks everyone, it's so wonderful to know you have so many rooting for you. And Gandalf promises NOT to get into any more trouble. Although when he does I end up posting it, and then he gets all sorts of fun comments from his lady friends - May and Suzy and Lucy ... and I think I'd better keep a better eye on the little ladies man...